For the second time this year, Penticton has lost its mayor.
Coun. Garry Litke took the centre chair as acting mayor in April, after then-mayor Dan Ashton took a leave of absence to run for, and eventually win, provincial office as MLA for Penticton.
Ashton tendered his official resignation as mayor on June 14, after he had been sworn in, and now Litke has resigned from council, freeing him to run for mayor in the municipal byelection scheduled for Sept. 7.
Litke’s resignation took effect at 5 p.m. Monday, allowing him to stay on council long enough to be part of the process of awarding a new management contract for the South Okanagan Events Centre to Global Spectrum.
Litke said his resignation had to occur Monday so the timing would be possible to have a Sept. 7 election, just before the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conference on Sept. 16.
“We thought it was really important to have a fully intact mayor and council attending the UBCM because of the hospital expansion project,” said Litke. “We are going to be working hard on that and that is one of my prime objectives should I get re-elected.”
Litke is currently the only declared candidate for the byelection, which will include both mayor and a single councillor seat, now that Litke has resigned.
The official nomination period runs from July 23 to Aug. 2, with the campaign period starting Aug. 3. Advance polls will be held on Aug. 28 and 29.
“The by-election in September will only provide our city with a mayor until the municipal election next year. It is important to maintain stability,” said Litke, who was first elected to council in Nov. 2005.
Litke said the knowledge and experience he has gained over the past 7.5 years on city council, including the last three months as acting mayor, have prepared him well for the position of mayor.
“I was heavily involved in the construction of the SOEC and served on the steering committee for the new pool which came in on budget,” said Litke who lists implementing the downtown improvement plan, developing the Challenge Penticton triathlon race and negotiating a new contract with the Penticton Vees as ongoing issues for the city.
“I want to bring my experience particularly from the pool expansion, learning from the mistakes of the SOEC,” Litke continued.
“I have been involved in a couple of significant projects and learned a bit about oversight and project management and about coming in on budget and on time.”